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Bennett football returns to state championship game looking to seal the deal

Thomas O'Neil-White

Senior offensive tackle Adrian Anderson considers himself a bulldozer out on the field for the Bennett Tigers football team. In fact, he thinks he and his teammates are the best in the state.

“I would say we have probably the best offensive line, defensive line New York State," he said. "The best receivers, corners. I just think we're the best team in New York State all around.”

Anderson and his squad will get to test that theory out this weekend as they play for the class double-A state championship, the second straight year the Tigers are competing for the championship.

But it hasn’t been all glory for the team as they were forced to forfeit four games they had already won due to what head coach Steve McDuffie calls a clerical error with freshman’s transcripts.

He said the family-like atmosphere got them through that tough time.

Bennett OL Adrian Anderson (left) and Quarterback Antonio Davis
Thomas O'Neil-White
Bennett OL Adrian Anderson (left) and Quarterback Antonio Davis

“It's not because of me that we're sitting here," he said. "It's because of them I think at that point of adversity you know what it made us stronger it made us a stronger family and made us a better team.”

After falling short of the state championship last year Senior Quarterback Antonio Davis said anything less than a return to the state final would be a dissapointment.

“After last season all we wanted to do was make it back and not fall short," he said. "That was the mindset. [Coach McDuffie] had us in here working all offseason since January we've been in a weight room doing work. That was a big step for us.”

The players say they are also playing to help change negative perceptions of inner-city athletes and that a championship victory is not only a win for Bennett but a win for the City of Buffalo.

Bennett plays Section IX's Newburgh Free Academy Sunday.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.